Asynchronous Distance Learning Course Setup Checklist

Prep for Fall 2020 Prep for Fall 2020

Asynchronous Distance Learning Course Setup Checklist

This checklist has been created as a guide to help you get your asynchronous distance learning course ready for students. This guide will walk you through any changes and edits you may need to make in the course, steps for starting the course off successfully, and what buttons to click when you’re ready to publish for students. Please bookmark this document; it will be updated over time.

Faculty report that it may take several hours, spanning across multiple days, to prepare a course for the new term. This may also be true for you, not because there’s a lot of prep work to do, but more so because it’s an unfamiliar process in an unfamiliar system. You should not expect to have to create new content or perform major edits. Rather, prepping a course for the new term involves work such as reviewing and editing details including dates, student groups, your contact information, and making sure all links are working. Make sure you budget adequate time to work your way through this guide and checklist in order to be ready to go.

Special Note on Cross-Listing Multiple Sections of the Same Course

If you intend on cross-listing your sections, you should complete all of these steps in ONE of your sections (referred to as a “course shell.”) Once this course shell is complete, you may then cross-list other sections of the same course.

Training & Accessing Canvas

  •  Complete E1: Online Faculty Orientation to explore best practices in online pedagogy
  •  Complete Canvas Instructor Training
    • NOTE: Designed to help 'Teacher' users better understand how to navigate and use the functions and features of the learning management system (LMS), it's a great resource that will help you get started in Canvas, as well as help you further develop your level of skill and usage of Canvas over time. You may self-enroll in our Canvas Instructor Orientation at any time. To self-enroll and access the course, use this Enrollment Link.
  •  Access the Canvas portal at  Bookmark this address for one-click access to Canvas.

Course Author Notes & Important Course Information

  • Review the “Course Author Notes and Important Course Information” page in the course for important information from the course author about how the course was designed and instructional resources.
  •  Look for notes from the Course Author and instructional designers about items that need to be edited or set up for the term. 
  •  Look for important information about teaching the course; including content and assignments.  e.g. complex content, difficult assignments, and group assignments 
  •  Look for original documents linked in that you can use to teach the course. e.g. Announcement templates, assignment rubrics
  • NOTE: Course Authors/Stewards are the best resource for questions and discussion about course content, curriculum, or preparing/teaching the course content. Be sure to connect with the Course Author/Steward for guidance about where and how to get started with your newly assigned course and for teaching tips and guidance throughout the term. 
  • E-Campus Solutions Team is the best resource for questions and support regarding Canvas and technical elements of the course, or if you are experiencing difficulty connecting with the Course Author/Steward. Please contact our E-Campus Solutions Team at or 513-217-4003 (x7-4003).

  • Helpful Resources

Course Syllabus

  • Review the course syllabus (accessed by clicking “Syllabus” on the left navigation menu). Want to see an example syllabus?
  • Edit the “About [Instructor - Add Name]” information to include your information.
  • Review, edit, re-link your syllabus document under the “Syllabus” sub-section (if needed).
  • Review/edit “Student & Instructor Expectations” to reflect your own expectations and practices.
  • Check/update the “Course Calendar/Assignment Checklist” for the upcoming term.
    NOTE: This is the bottom section of the syllabus.
  • Where applicable: Add any necessary files or content into Canvas as dictated by course design and/or author notes

Helpful Resources

Assignments & Groups

  • Review course assignments (accessed by clicking “Assignments” on the left navigation menu).
  • Check/Edit Assignment Details by clicking the assignment name.
    NOTE: The due dates should be updated to the current term.
  • Review the directions and rubrics for all assignments so that you are ready to facilitate them and help students work their way through them successfully.
  • Set up student groups under the People tab in the left navigation menu (if applicable).
  • Review grading categories and the grading system used in the course Gradebook. If using a “weighted grades” system, you will want to make sure the categories total 100%.
    Note: Canvas grading systems dictate how the graded items in your course will calculate students’ final grades. The two most frequently used systems are: 1. Total Points: graded items are each worth a specific number of points that are combined to calculate the final grade. 2. Weighted Grades: graded items are assigned to categories; each category is assigned a percentage of the overall final grade totaling 100%
  • Mute assignments (if needed, or desired).
    NOTE: Canvas allows students to see assignment grades as soon as the instructor has graded the assignment. Students can also receive notifications every time a Canvas quiz grade is updated. Instructors may choose to mute assignments and quizzes and then unmute to release all finalized grades to students at once.

Helpful Resources

Course Announcements

  • Review the course announcements.
  • Review existing, pre-written announcements already built into the course to identify those that you want to use. Open them, edit appropriately, and re-schedule each announcement for delivery. Then, delete the announcements you do not wish to use (if applicable).
    • If no announcements are listed: You may wish to create new announcements you want to use in the course. You can write and send them throughout the term. Or, you can write them now and schedule them for delivery at a later date
  • Add your Welcome Message. Want to see an example Welcome Message?
    NOTE: Usually, the welcome message video is sent as a Course Announcement.
  •  Set your announcements to display on the course home page (if desired).

Helpful Resources

Course Home Page & All Modules

  •  Review and update your course Home page to ensure that all of the buttons are correctly linked and the information in each of them is correct. 
  • Review & update the left-hand course navigation to ensure that it is set up the way you would like it to be in your course. Need more information? Visit our Interactive Walkthrough for Canvas Course Set-Up.
    NOTE: Remember that allowing students to navigate directly to assignments, Discussions, Quizzes, or Files directly is discouraged. E-Campus courses are designed for students to work through the course by accessing the Modules page.

    The following items are the suggested left-hand navigation options for all E-Campus courses:

    1. Home
    2. Announcements
    3. Syllabus
    4. Modules
    5. Grades
    6. People
    7. Send Grades to Banner
  • Update the “Instructor Contact” information under Module 0.
  • Check all links throughout the course by clicking on them to make sure they link to where they should.
    NOTE: You can check these links using the course link validator, which searches through course content and returns invalid or unresponsive external links in both published and unpublished content.
  •  Review if there were course design elements built into the modules, such as prerequisites, “Mark as done,” ‘Add to To-Do,’ or completion/advancement requirements.
  •  Ensure/check that all modules & pages are ‘Published’ (the cloud next to course elements is green - indicating ‘published’)

Helpful Resources

Publish Course & Welcome Students

  • Publish the course.
  • Send a Welcome Message (different from your Welcome Video) to your students using either Canvas Conversations or as a Course Announcement.

    NOTE: Students won’t receive Canvas Email until after the course is published. Once the course is published and has any student activity, it cannot be unpublished.

Cross-Listing Multiple Sections of the Same Course

At this point in your course set-up, you are now ready to cross-list any other sections of the same course. There is Canvas Guide on Cross-Listing that will provide step-by-step instructions.

Note: To print out this checklist, expand all of the sections before using the Print command in your menu's browser. 

We've Got Your Back

If at any point you would like support or guidance while you are teaching a distance learning course, please connect with us!  We are here to help.